Book Review: Empire of Storms


The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those who don’t. 

With her heart sworn to the warrior-prince by her side, and her fealty pledged to the people she is determined to save, Aelin will delve into the depths of her power to protect those she loves. But as monsters emerge from the horrors of the past, and dark forces become poised to claim her world, the only chance for salvation will lie in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.

Boy, oh, boy. Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas was such an exciting, anticipated release for me. I felt like the whole Bookstagram community was fangirling and fanboying hard, and I know a bunch of us are still experiencing the book hangover even after finishing the story weeks ago.

I admit that part of me was nervous before starting EoS, because I didn’t really enjoy the previous book, Queen of Shadows; it was my least favorite of the series, for various reasons. A couple of those reasons leaked into EoS, which was unfortunate, but didn’t detract too much from the story overall.

Warning: This review contains mild spoilers. Proceed with caution.

The Good

I feel like SJM’s worlds and characters get so much more fleshed out and relatable with each book she writes, and EoS was a prime example of this. Lysandra quickly became one of my favorite characters; she was absolutely badass and one of the most loyal and unselfish people I have ever come across. I also feel like we got to see even more sides of Aedion, Dorian, Rowan and Aelin—particularly Aelin, because we learn just how far she is willing to go for her friends and Terrasen by the end of the book.

The beginning of the story was a bit slow to get into for me, with the second half of the book proving to be the most engrossing. That wasn’t a problem, however, because the slow buildup with Aelin and her crew gave me a chance to focus on the “side” characters: Lorcan, Elide, Manon and the rest of the witches. Seeing as how in Heir of Fire I was bored to tears by the witches, I have to give THE UTMOST PROPS to SJM for getting me to fall in love with literally everybody, including the Thirteen. Even the previously despised Lorcan deserved a hug toward the end of the book. Elide also proved to be strong and cunning, and Manon brave and more passionate than even she thought possible.

The one character missing was Chaol, which would have thrown my post-Crown of Midnight self into a fit. But this far into the series, and especially after QoS, I didn’t miss him at all. (Sorry, babe.)

The Bad

While I was extremely happy with the evolution of the characters, the evolution of their relationships with each other did feel a bit forced or rushed at times. There was a certain scene with Aelin and Rowan that did not seem like the right timing; it sort of felt thrown in because readers were expecting it (and because there was a private beach). This is also the case with Dorian and Manon. While I shipped them hard in QoS, I wasn’t quite ready for them to ACTUALLY set sail. The only two pairs who seemed natural were Aedion and Lysandra and Lorcan and Elide, but both Aedion AND Lorcan made some big-mouth mistakes at the end, so I’m hoping they didn’t screw everything up!

As for the issues that leaked over from QoS, I feel like Aelin continues to disregard her friends’ feelings and wishes, which in my opinion equals disrespect. Her court members are literally risking their lives for her and their lands, but Aelin still doesn’t share her plans and ideas with them. While that makes for great big reveals, and her plans DO always seem to work out in the end, there have been several times that Aedion and Rowan have expressed frustration with her and yet she doesn’t try to change her ways. In the end, I honestly had a hard time completely empathizing with Aelin because of this. I was horrified and distraught, as well as impressed at the level of her plan execution, but not as wrecked as I thought I would be.

I also felt like the end of the book was much too similar to SJM’s other book, A Court of Mist and Fury, for several reasons. The similarities were so striking that I wasn’t really surprised or even moved by one of them.

The Verdict

While I had personal issues with some of the characters’ actions (or lack thereof), I still enjoyed the story. There were intense battles, multifarious adventures, shocking revelations, character growth beyond imagination, and tons of detail linking the past with the present and future. I am completely enamored with these characters and can’t wait for the next (and last D:) book.

Rating: ★★★★


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